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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Unsung Hero (12/07/06)

TITLE: And the Award Goes To ....
By Karen Bankhead



Today, another well-known actor passed on, and with that came the subsequent media blitz of adoration and remembrance. This guy was so good at what he did, and, as a fellow actor, he had my admiration. His gift will keep on giving, thanks to syndicated television, cable and DVD’s.

His death reminded me of the passing of a very special person in my life, perhaps because they died of the same type of cancer. I couldn’t help but think that her passing was almost the polar opposite of a “celebrity’s” - no news alert, no star-studded funeral, not even an obituary in the local paper. But this lady will always be the biggest star I’ve ever known.

Reverend Bernice was a pastor, advisor, second mother and friend to many. She had a gift of prophecy and would accept visitors or phone calls from all over and at all times of day and night, from people seeking her Godly wisdom. And she gave it freely, with no charge, no judgment - just a lot of faith and love. She gave uncannily spot-on advice to law students struggling to pass the Bar, women trying to have babies, or silly actors like me, trying to ace an audition. Countless careers, families and lives were established and/or saved, partly due to her grace and graciousness.

When I met her, I was involved in a, shall we say, “not very well thought out” relationship with a man who was not good for me. Having suffered from clinical depression for most of my adult life, I know that she was my God-sent angel who saved me from myself. I walked into her tiny, storefront church and for the first time in my life, felt the presence of Jesus Christ Himself. Hanging out with her, I learned how to begin to love the Lord, and accept His love for me. She would make me give myself a big hug from time to time, and she would make me really mean it!

I began to learn how to serve the Lord, and most importantly, her mantra, “Obedience, obedience, obedience!” She quickly became my best friend and mentor. When I threatened to quit acting, because I was getting so “holy,” she said, “Baby, there are all kinds of ways to serve the Lord,” words which changed my life and greatly blessed my acting career. I couldn’t even be mad at her when she befriended my former boyfriend, and even came with me to his wedding when he married someone else, which she had already gently told me would come to pass. To my surprise, I enjoyed the wedding, and was even happy for the couple, which was a direct result of this great lady’s example of unconditional love and joy for life.

She was also the one who gently encouraged me, without explanation, to just “spend some time” with my Dad, who was so dear to me, but also so low key that he was easy to take for granted. Following her advice, I began taking long walks with my Dad, mostly silent, but lovely. To his annoyance, I started calling him at work, not to ask for money or something, but just to say “Hi, Dad.” On family vacations, I chose to sit on the family porch with him rather than run to the mall with the other gals. And so, when he passed away so suddenly, less than two years after her wise words, my heart hurt badly, but not nearly as badly.

There are so many priceless “gifts” that she freely gave to me and many other folks. And when I’m prone to get too far down in the dumps, I remember the time I walked into her house during a rainstorm. Her roof was leaking in so many places, she didn’t have enough pots to catch all the rain. But I didn’t find her frettin’ and fussin’. She just said, “Baby, it is it ever rainin’! It’s even rainin’ in the house!” And even now, when bad times come, that’s my motto: “It’s even rainin’ in the house.”

When that famous actor died, it was lamented that he didn’t earn more awards in his career. In my mind, I wish my Reverend Bernice had been acknowledged in a big way during her lifetime, although she probably gave it no mind. But in my heart I do ponder - how many autographs has she signed in heaven so far?

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Member Comments
Member Date
Myrna Noyes12/15/06
I really enjoyed this tribute to Reverend Bernice! With your words, you painted a very clear picture of her in my mind! I would love to have a woman like this mentor me, too! Thank you for sharing this lovely piece!
Donna Powers 12/15/06
Your description of her makes me wish I'd known her, too. What a lovely tribute. Good work!
Arvis Jones12/16/06
Rev. Bernice Edwwards was my mother and the article about her is so true. She was a very special mother, counselor, friend and overall person, as was my father, Charles Edwards. Thank you Karen for shining a light on my mother's special life. She lives on in our memories.